Greenwood didn’t pick up any style points for its effort on Friday night, but nobody seems to care.
The Woodmen faced their share of adversity during their Class 4A regional battle, but they did just enough to grind out a 34-27 triumph against a shifty Mississinewa club and earn the program’s first regional crown since 1990.
“Rarely do we do things that are really good-looking,” Greenwood coach Mike Campbell said with a smile.
Greenwood (10-3) earns a semistate trip to East Central, which defeated Evansville Central 35-13.
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The visiting Indians (10-3) still had a chance to win the game when it forced a turnover on downs at its 12-yard line with 29.2 seconds left, but Isaiah Drew stepped in front of a Cade McCoin pass on the next play and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. Alex Walker intercepted another pass on the next play from scrimmage to ice it.
“When our defense needed stops, they got stops. When we needed to score, we scored. That’s how we do things,” Campbell said.
Mississinewa scored on its opening drive, and after Greenwood cut it to 7-6 on a 6-yard Gallman keeper, the visitors went up by eight early in the second quarter when Heisman Skeens found the end zone from 4 yards out.
Gallman capped a 15-play Woodmen drive with a 4-yard TD run of his own, and Luke Raker’s two-point conversion tied it with 5:17 to go in the half. The Indians quickly moved back into Greenwood territory on a long pass to Skeens, but a pair of costly penalties and some clutch tackles allowed the Woodmen to regain possession with 2:13 on the clock.
Gallman took advantage, piloting the home team on a 10-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard pass to R.J. Meyers with 33.7 seconds to go before the break.
Mississinewa opened the second half with its first defensive stop, then tied it at 21-21 on a brilliant 27-yard touchdown gallop by Skeens. The Woodmen, though, responded with another long march, capped by an Anthony Williams TD from 3 yards out.
It appeared that Greenwood was set to put the game away when Nick Young recovered a Mississinewa fumble and the offense drove inside the 10. Gallman was sacked going for it on fourth down, though, and Skeens shifted the momentum two plays later with an 86-yard scoring run.
The Indians’ star was injured, though, on a failed two-point pass attempt that Greenwood’s Logan Roddy batted down to preserve a one-point lead. The Woodmen were then able to run the clock down inside of a minute, but Williams was stopped on fourth down at the Mississinewa 12, keeping the outcome in doubt.
Twice in the last 30 seconds, Greenwood came up with the defensive plays it needed.
“It’s amazing,” Young said after the win. “It’s unreal. All the work we’ve put in looks like it’s finally paying off. It was a tough game, but I think our seniors showed some great leadership and we had the determination to get it done.”